ECLIPSE THE STARS (Ignite The Stars #2) - by Maura Milan

Published: September 3rd 2019 - Albert Whitman & Company.
Genres: Young adult / romance / adventure / dystopia.    
Pages: 400.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence.
Format: eARC.
Source: Edelweiss. Thank you so much to the publisher for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

Ia Cōcha never thought she’d be working for the Olympus Commonwealth. But that was before she found out her trusted brother Einn was trying to tear apart the universe. Now, Ia, the Blood Wolf of the Skies, has agreed to help the Royal Star Force on one condition: when she finds him, she gets to kill Einn herself.

Brinn Tarver has just come to terms with her Tawny identity when the public lashes out against her people, crushing her family. At her breaking point, she starts to question everything she believes in—including Ia. After the death of his mentor,

Knives Adams is doing his best to live up to a role he didn’t ask for as Aphelion’s new headmaster. Still, with each new step deeper into war, he feels torn between his duties and the pull of Ia’s radical—sometimes criminal—ideas.

As they fight to keep darkness from eclipsing the skies, their unpredictable choices launch this breathtaking sequel to explosive new heights.

Milan's prose is raw, fierce, and beautiful. I love her writing style so much. Her sentences are profound without trying, her dialogue and banter are utterly exhilarating, and there's so much beauty and heartbreak and violence within each paragraph of prose. I can't wait to read more of her work.

Unfortunately, the plot isn't as strong as it was in Ignite The Stars. There is still the fantastic action that I adored so much in the first book, but it's less frequent and more short-lived. There are still some clever and deliciously unpredictable twists, but the main characters are less involved in the incidents unfolding - they aren't as forcefully proactive as they were in Book 1.

Another thing I found extremely disappointing was the ending. I don't mind how it ended, but the pacing of the final scenes is upsetting. The final fight is over within a few sentences, and considering the characters and emotions involved, that's underwhelming. I wanted an explosive ending, and instead it just fizzles out. Yes, it still maintains twists, heartbreak, and exciting action, but it's over too quickly and the characters are too complaisant.

Speaking of pacing, some incidents in the story are rushed, too.  Explanations like "three weeks passed" are irritating, especially when some scenes could use the expounding. I wanted to dwell on certain incidents, but the time jumps don't allow it.

  Ia had tried so hard to protect her, to teach her how to defend herself. How foolish she was, Brinn realised. Ia didn't know that there were things that hurt more than blades and fists. Pain. Sadness. No one could protect you from that. 

  I'm fighting because I'm angry. I'm so angry. And I'm alone with that. I want people to see all of it, to know that it's real. 

The characters are the best thing about this series. I fell in love with them in Ignite The Stars, and I would follow them to the ends of space and time with no reservations. They are amazing. Ia and Knives' romance is complicated, but their feelings for each other are so deep. I love how their romance brings out the softness in Ia and the vulnerability in Knives. Watching them realise how much they actually care for each other is so special.

They're also both struggling with individual trauma and shame following the events of the previous book: Knives is wracked with guilt and self-doubt as he takes over his father's position in the academy, in addition to grieving the loss of his best friend, and I enjoyed watching him wrestle with these wounds. Ia is as cocky as ever, but her confidence does take a hit when her brother returns and temporarily incapacitates her. I enjoyed watching these two characters battle their inner demons while also trying to reconcile their feelings for each other.

Brinn's story arc is my favourite. She goes through a lot of trauma in this book, and she spends the majority of the story grieving and wrestling with anxiety and her own sense of purpose. I love how different her character is compared to the person she was in Ignite The Stars. Events have shaped and changed her, and she's feeling it intensely.
Another aspect of her development that I found riveting was her complicated dynamic with Ia. Are they friends? Are they truly friends? Brinn asks these questions, and struggles internally with Ia's stance in the story and who she's actually loyal to. Brin just wants them to talk to each other, to act and open up like real "girlfriends" do, but Ia has - understandably - other things on her mind.

Explosive writing, complicated relationships, breathtaking action and fierce characters are a guarantee in the heart-wrenching sequel that is Eclipse The Stars.   

← Ignite The Stars

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